Washington: The US is deeply committed to the rise of India as a global power, a top diplomat said Wednesday and hinted that it is favourably inclined to support the country`s place in the UN Security Council.
Setting the tone for the first Cabinet-level Indo-US Strategic dialogue, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Bill Burns, who returned from his third trip India last week, said, "The simple truth is that India`s strength and progress on the world stage is deeply in the strategic interest of the United States."
Burns hinted that US is favourably inclined to support the country`s place in the UN Security Council, even as it stopped short of making a public endorsement of it.
Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a Washington-based think-tank, Burns said soon to be the world`s most populous country and already the world`s largest democracy, India is now the world`s second-fastest-growing economy and a central player in the G-20.
"India plays an increasingly significant role in Asia and on a wide range of global challenges," Burns said in his address to the think tank on rise of India.
Looking forward to the new strategic dialogue that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will launch with the
Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna on Thursday the first high-level dialogue of its kind between the two countries, Burns said like the previous two presidents, Bill Clinton and George W Bush, the current US President, Barack Obama, has laid strong and consistent emphasis on the enormous stake that the United States has in India`s emergence as a global power.
"When he invited Prime Minister Singh to the White House last year for the first state visit of the new
administration, the President called the US-Indian relationship one of the defining partnerships of the 21st
century," he said.
In a new National Security Strategy released last week, the President underscored that that expanding
partnership with India will remain one of his highest priorities, he asserted.
As two of the world`s leading democracies, India and the US can help build a new global commons, an international system in which other democracies can flourish, human dignity is advanced, poverty is reduced, trade is expanded, environment is preserved, violent extremists are marginalised, the spread of weapons of mass destruction is curbed, and new frontiers in science and technology are explored.
"That is the moment and that is the promise that lies before us," Burns said.
Reiterating US support to India`s rise as a global power, Burns said: "This administration has been and will
remain deeply committed to supporting India`s rise and to building the strongest possible partnership between us."
Noting that a third of the US Cabinet has visited India in the first 16 months of the new administration, and
President Obama intends to visit later this year, he said, "We have followed through energetically on our commitment to fulfilling the civil nuclear accord, completing a complicated reprocessing agreement nearly six months ahead of schedule."
"The further truth, however, is that progress in US-Indian partnership is not automatic. It requires continued
hard work and vision on both sides. It requires patience and creativity, and it requires honesty in dealing head-on with concerns and doubts that arise on both sides," he said.
Burns said the two countries can`t afford to gloss over such questions or pretend that they don`t exist.
"Some in India do worry today that the United States seeks to re-hyphenate relations with India, that we see India mainly through the prism of preoccupations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that we won`t push Pakistan hard enough on terrorists who kill and threaten Indians that we will hurry toward the exit in Afghanistan and leave India holding the strategic pieces," he said.
Some in India worry that the new administration is tempted by visions of a G-2 world, that the US has downgraded India because it sees Asia exclusively through the lens of an emerging China, with India`s role secondary, Burns said.
Similarly, Burns said some Americans, for their part, worry that it is India which self-hyphenates, that India
sometimes has a hard time realising how far its influence and its interests have taken it beyond its immediate neighbourhood, that India doesn`t always see as clearly as others do how vital its own role in Asia is becoming.
"Some Americans worry that India is ambivalent about its own rise in the world, still torn between its G-77 and G-20 identities. And some Americans wonder if India has the drive to overcome obstacles to its own ambitious development efforts to cut through the license raj and speed up reform and attract more investment in more areas," Burns argued in his opening remarks.
Referring to the first strategic dialogue between the two countries, he said this will bring together Cabinet-level representatives on both sides to consider new initiatives in areas like education, energy, counter-terrorism and agriculture, and launching new dialogues on regional issues, from East Asia to the Middle East and Africa.